Thinking of going over to the dark side...MTBs!

bmxboy10
bmxboy10 Posts: 1,958
edited July 2014 in Road buying advice
Been riding road bikes for most of my life but have had several near misses recently with cars, tactors and horseboxes partly due to the road condition and general attitude towards roadies on the crowded Surrey back roads. So it got me thinking about getting a full suspension MTB just to mix things up a bit. I have a CX bike already that would do for the lighter trails and I use this bike when out with the kids. How may roadies also ride MTBs and do you use the MTB all year round or just in winter?
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Comments

  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,301
    Personally I don't think there is enough off road for a MTB... any ride, other than a loop around Leith Hill, will ask for a lot of road riding, which is pretty dreadful with a MTB... a CX bike is a lot more versatile. If you can't do a trail with a CX bike, it's not cast in stone you can do it with a MTB
    left the forum March 2023
  • CX bikes are good for all round use. I ride my off road and on road and on road it is not that far off a good road bike and off road it will hold its own against an MTB. If you wanted to ride in trail centres an MTB would be a better bet for for just riding a CX bike is great IMHO.

    I have 2 road bikes 2 CX bikes and I will be getting a 29er MTB soon but to race on.
  • northpole
    northpole Posts: 1,499
    I bought a full suspension mtb last autumn with the intention of using it during winter to reduce road time/ risk at this time of year. Looking back however, I think I deluded myself - I was simply not prepared for the quantum of clay/ muck clinging on like glue to the tyres/ frame/ me in the Surrey Hills area. Although the bike isn't bad (Spesh Epic Carbon) it's already beefy weight is exacerbated by the muck and I found it took forever to clean the bike when I eventually got home. The removal of the risk of cars etc is offset by the risk of tree stumps/ roots/ intimidating drops alongside the paths I was taken on by a fairly experienced off roader 'friend'! It can be great fun, extremely hard work on some of the ridiculously steep climbs and good exercise in a slightly different way to road biking. I'm glad I gave it a go, but I really cannot justify having the mtb sat around most of the time unused.

    Peter

    PS Part of the learning problems I experienced were magnified by the poor tyres fitted when I got the bike - changing them over made a huge difference for the better - well worth thinking about if you decide to give it a go.
  • markhewitt1978
    markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    Why not try and put the CX through a bit more pain first? CX bikes can handle most of the blue / green stuff on mountain bike trails.
  • passout
    passout Posts: 4,425
    Use mine in winter or on summer holidays. I ride in the Lake District or Scottish Highlands on my Whyte 905 hardtail - tried full suspension but didn't thing it was necessary & didn't like the extra weight. Hardtails, whether XC or with 150mm forks, are much more flexible & fun than full suspension IMO. Cheaper to run too. Si I wouldn't bother with FS.
    'Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible' Marcel Proust.
  • arran77
    arran77 Posts: 9,260
    If you're Surrey based head over to Swinley and check out the riding over there especially the older 'unofficial' stuff :wink:

    I think you'll find that your CX bike might not quite cut it anymore :wink:
    "Arran, you are like the Tony Benn of smut. You have never diluted your depravity and always stand by your beliefs. You have my respect sir and your wife my pity" :lol:

    seanoconn
  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,301
    arran77 wrote:
    If you're Surrey based head over to Swinley and check out the riding over there especially the older 'unofficial' stuff :wink:

    I think you'll find that your CX bike might not quite cut it anymore :wink:

    Yes, but once you get your MTB you are then limited to that same circuit every single sunday morning.... that's what I found when I had one...
    You live in the Rockies or in the Peak District? Great, get a MTB, you live in Surrey...mmmmhhh :roll:
    left the forum March 2023
  • lostboysaint
    lostboysaint Posts: 4,250
    Personally I don't think there is enough off road for a MTB... any ride, other than a loop around Leith Hill, will ask for a lot of road riding, which is pretty dreadful with a MTB... a CX bike is a lot more versatile. If you can't do a trail with a CX bike, it's not cast in stone you can do it with a MTB

    Sorry but that's rubbish. There's LOTS of variety of off road riding for MTBs. You just need to know where to look and work out how to link it up - which isn't always with miles of tarmac.

    And the rest - well it depends what you class as a trail and how fast you want to go along/up/down it. There's plenty of trails that you COULD get a CX bike down, but would you really want to?
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  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,301

    Sorry but that's rubbish. There's LOTS of variety of off road riding for MTBs. You just need to know where to look and work out how to link it up - which isn't always with miles of tarmac.

    And the rest - well it depends what you class as a trail and how fast you want to go along/up/down it. There's plenty of trails that you COULD get a CX bike down, but would you really want to?

    I've done my share of off roading in Surrey... occasionally you find a stretch which is a bit technical for a CX bike, other times you find a stretch which is too technical for any bike, like a 1 in 3 descent on rocks, unless you are really good at it. Most of the tracks where YOU ARE ALLOWED to go are OK with 32-40 mm tyres in the dry season... in winter it's a different matter, but as someone mentioned above, loading the bike with 3 Kg of mud is not everyone's cup of tea... I've done it a couple of times, but spending the all afternoon washing and servicing the bike is a bit off-putting
    left the forum March 2023
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Just spent a few weeks in Scotland, including some time near Peebles and made some visits to Glentress and Innerleithinm, plus some nearby hills on my CX bike. Ditched the regular CX chainset for an MTB double, some 41mm Surly Knard tyres and had a whale of a time riding all the reds and blues plus quite a few black bits. At no point did I wish for a 30lb full-susser - having a lighter bike certainly helped on the Innerleithin XC loop which is climbing for the first 45mins. The notion that a CX bike is only for light trails is rubbish - it's simply the rider. OK, some of the black sections are quite daunting, particularly if wet. I'm in Swaledale this week - off to ride around the tops of the moors!
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • arran77
    arran77 Posts: 9,260
    arran77 wrote:
    If you're Surrey based head over to Swinley and check out the riding over there especially the older 'unofficial' stuff :wink:

    I think you'll find that your CX bike might not quite cut it anymore :wink:

    Yes, but once you get your MTB you are then limited to that same circuit every single sunday morning.... that's what I found when I had one...
    You live in the Rockies or in the Peak District? Great, get a MTB, you live in Surrey...mmmmhhh :roll:

    I agree with you to a certain extent Ugo, that's why I no longer have my full suspension downhill bike but my hard tail BFe is great for where we are on the Hampshire / Surrey border.

    I suppose it depends what you try and do with the bike as well as what the actual trail is like.
    "Arran, you are like the Tony Benn of smut. You have never diluted your depravity and always stand by your beliefs. You have my respect sir and your wife my pity" :lol:

    seanoconn
  • bendertherobot
    bendertherobot Posts: 11,684
    We have some pretty decent hills and forests round our way. I do use my MTB on them. Mostly because it is more appropriately geared. But in terms of handling etc my CX would do a great job. In fact there's something about piloting a drop handlebar bike on proper off road stuff that just makes you smile.

    FWIW I'd be quite happy to stick a rigid fork on my MTB instead of a susser. It's just, well, nicer (for want of a better word).
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  • jonny_trousers
    jonny_trousers Posts: 3,588
    I'd love to have a mountain bike, but until I move somewhere where there are a few decent trails close to my doorstep I know I wouldn't use it. One day, though.

    If you fancy it go for it.
  • passout
    passout Posts: 4,425
    Monty Dog wrote:
    Just spent a few weeks in Scotland, including some time near Peebles and made some visits to Glentress and Innerleithinm, plus some nearby hills on my CX bike. Ditched the regular CX chainset for an MTB double, some 41mm Surly Knard tyres and had a whale of a time riding all the reds and blues plus quite a few black bits. At no point did I wish for a 30lb full-susser - having a lighter bike certainly helped on the Innerleithin XC loop which is climbing for the first 45mins. The notion that a CX bike is only for light trails is rubbish - it's simply the rider. OK, some of the black sections are quite daunting, particularly if wet. I'm in Swaledale this week - off to ride around the tops of the moors!


    This. An XC bike or trail hardtail should be fine.
    'Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible' Marcel Proust.
  • bmxboy10
    bmxboy10 Posts: 1,958
    Just to be clear I have had a few hard tails in the past mainly for messing about on and what happened was I more or less converted the mtbs to be hybrids as I was riding predominantly on roads then got back into road biking anyway. Have my eye on a rather tasty CF Cannondale or even a Ritchey Steel p29er.

    As always some good advice guys and I think I might work the croix de fer a bit harder before deciding to buy another mtb. I think that the reality is I would be taking the bike on the car to local trails and actually that sounds like grief especially as I have two young kids and it's hard enough as it is to find time to ride.
  • kajjal
    kajjal Posts: 3,380
    That's the problem with mountain biking unless you have good trails very close by you have to travel to find good riding. Round by us we are quite lucky with trails but it is nothing like the Peak District or Long Mynd etc. I only use my XC hardtail mountain bike once the trails have dried out enough. Other than that I am on the road bike over the winter and when the trails are like a swamp.

    I find by the end of the drier weather in the Autumn switching back to my road bike is a welcome change. In much the same way as switching back to mainly mountain biking in the Spring.
  • I started with mtb then got in to road riding and used my mtb less and less. Went out on it two weekends ago after a lapse of about a year, totally underwhelmed by the experience but I guess a big part is where you live. I'm in the South Downs, I guess if I lived in Whistler I might have a different viewpoint. Anyway upshot is the mtb is going to make room for another n+1 and CX is going to be pressed back into service as er... a CX (from a commuter) That's the plan anyway.
  • bmxboy10
    bmxboy10 Posts: 1,958
    Never really thought about it until today but my lbs is Evans Gatwick. They have a fair size showroom and a few years back you could not move for mtbs and road bike section out the back had about 8/10 bikes on show. went today and they only had a handful of mtbs out the rest were road bikes or cx bikes. I think this is a good indicator of what you guys are saying.
  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,301
    solboy10 wrote:
    Never really thought about it until today but my lbs is Evans Gatwick. They have a fair size showroom and a few years back you could not move for mtbs and road bike section out the back had about 8/10 bikes on show. went today and they only had a handful of mtbs out the rest were road bikes or cx bikes. I think this is a good indicator of what you guys are saying.

    MTB was extremely popular in the 80s and 90s... then the bikes became extreme and it lost the appeal... that's the way I see it at least

    http://paolocoppo.drupalgardens.com/con ... -still-fun
    left the forum March 2023
  • johnny25
    johnny25 Posts: 344
    I do lots of mtb'ing in all weathers. It compliments road cycling well for me - stamina, strength to name a few.

    The trouble with buying a mtb is that most people fail to realize that unless you have good trails nearby, you do have to travel.

    Road cycling can make you fairly lazy - Most people have a road outside their house and off they go. Most people don't have mtb trails outside their house, so you do have to put some effort in to find them, which is half the fun. If that is an issue, then it's probably not worth the bother buying a mtb.

    Nevertheless, I commute on mine when I can. The route to work takes me through a small wooded park, canal tow paths and to finish, another wooded area. Great 12 mile work out on a round trip. Mtb handling skills are also transferable - bunny hop being a good example.

    To enjoy a mtb you do need to know why you want one in the first place and use your imagination a bit more. That's probably why sales are not as strong as they were or why people buy them then don't use them.
  • mamba80
    mamba80 Posts: 5,032
    it depends where u live, down here in the s/w, I m never far from some trails and I bought a Cf 29 er to link them all up and tbh its not lot slower than a winter clad bike and missives more fun BUT if I still lived in Reading then I d probably not bother, as you said, its a drive to find anywhere decent to ride.

    road sales are off the coat tails which has been the success of British road and track cycling, maybe that will change?
  • giant_man
    giant_man Posts: 6,878
    solboy10 wrote:
    Been riding road bikes for most of my life but have had several near misses recently with cars, tactors and horseboxes partly due to the road condition and general attitude towards roadies on the crowded Surrey back roads. So it got me thinking about getting a full suspension MTB just to mix things up a bit. I have a CX bike already that would do for the lighter trails and I use this bike when out with the kids. How may roadies also ride MTBs and do you use the MTB all year round or just in winter?

    Why on earth would you want to be seen on a mountain bike? Most of them look like children's bikes after all. They look ridiculous!
  • handful
    handful Posts: 920
    I'll ignore that last comment!

    I started cycling on the dark side as you call it and progressed from a hardtail to a full suss after getting more into it and going to more challenging places. I bought my road bike basically to help my fitness but soon became hooked, mainly due to the convenience of riding from home. Now having done both long enough to judge I still think mtbing is much more "fun" and gets the old heart pumping much more but the hassle of having to drive somewhere (not too far for me luckily) means it's the mtb that spends much more time hanging in the garage and it's this forum I'm spending much more time looking at! I do know the countryside around my home much better now though and know every bridleway for miles around and I'm glad for that reason that I went the path that I did.
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  • birdie23
    birdie23 Posts: 457
    I don't think I could deal with the hassle of having to travel for a good ride.

    I'm considering building a CX bike though for the winter so I can enjoy the slower pace of bridleways etc when the weather is a bit grim.
    2012 Cube Agree GTC
  • JonEdwards
    JonEdwards Posts: 452
    Mountain biker who roadies here.

    If you're in Surrey, then the Surrey Hills and North Downs make for awesome riding. Loads and loads of singletrack, you'll have to do very little tarmac unless you want to. Holmbury and Pitch Hill are run by the Hurtwood and they're very pro mtb so anything goes, Winterfold has great trails, as does Leith, but you need to be prepared to be a bit cheeky for the best stuff. (although, I'm sure we all know that all tracks are bridleways after 6pm :wink: )

    Surrey doesn't really require full sus - I used to ride hardtails most of the time, but trail evolution and bike evolution go hand in hand and there's more "big bike" stuff appearing all the time, whilst bikes are getting lighter/more capable. My current FS is one of the lighter ones I've had, but gives up very little in outright speed downhill to the heaviest (last) one and handles better too. It doesn't climb fast in the way my hardtail does, but I'm still riding where 95% of people are off and walking.

    Yes, you might have to put a bit more effort in to make mtbing "work" for you - the travel etc, but the highs you can get from doing so can knock road riding, fun as it is, into a cocked hat. Winter riding ceases to become a chore (hell - the worse the weather, the more fun it can be), bike handling skills go through the roof, there's the thrill of floating through that tricky technical section, the endorphin rush of clearing a climb that doesn't just require strength and power but handling skill and mental agility as well. The buzz of nailing big jumps. The views, out in the remote back country. Then there's the moments it all comes together - technical, exposed alpine riding when you're aware of the vast space around you and desperate to look at the amazing scenery, but if you relax from 100% commitment for a fraction of a second they'll need a mop and bucket to clear you up. Best. Feeling. Ever.

    There are downsides to MTBs, sure (perpetually filthy gear, bike parts getting trashed in weeks or months, not decades). Road sections aren't a major issue - in fact I think long road climbs on a 30+lb bike with sticky tyres do your roadieing a fair bit of good - mental & physical resistance training! So long as the descent at the end is worth it, it's all good. (catching & dropping roadies when your bike weighs 2x theirs also makes for a nice ego boost :D )

    Ultimately, I've never come back from a road ride thinking "If you killed me now, I'd die a happy man". It happens every couple of weeks on a mountain bike in UK riding. Every day when I'm on holiday somewhere with big mountains and properly remote trails.
    other times you find a stretch which is too technical for any bike, like a 1 in 3 descent on rocks,
    .
    Crap. There's very little that's "un rideable". There's stuff *you* might not be able to ride, but that's the challenge isn't it? (and since when was 1 in 3 a steep descent??)
  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,301
    JonEdwards wrote:
    Mountain biker who roadies here.

    If you're in Surrey, then the Surrey Hills and North Downs make for awesome riding. Loads and loads of singletrack, you'll have to do very little tarmac unless you want to. Holmbury and Pitch Hill are run by the Hurtwood and they're very pro mtb so anything goes, Winterfold has great trails, as does Leith, but you need to be prepared to be a bit cheeky for the best stuff. (although, I'm sure we all know that all tracks are bridleways after 6pm :wink: )

    Surrey doesn't really require full sus - I used to ride hardtails most of the time, but trail evolution and bike evolution go hand in hand and there's more "big bike" stuff appearing all the time, whilst bikes are getting lighter/more capable. My current FS is one of the lighter ones I've had, but gives up very little in outright speed downhill to the heaviest (last) one and handles better too. It doesn't climb fast in the way my hardtail does, but I'm still riding where 95% of people are off and walking.

    Yes, you might have to put a bit more effort in to make mtbing "work" for you - the travel etc, but the highs you can get from doing so can knock road riding, fun as it is, into a cocked hat. Winter riding ceases to become a chore (hell - the worse the weather, the more fun it can be), bike handling skills go through the roof, there's the thrill of floating through that tricky technical section, the endorphin rush of clearing a climb that doesn't just require strength and power but handling skill and mental agility as well. The buzz of nailing big jumps. The views, out in the remote back country. Then there's the moments it all comes together - technical, exposed alpine riding when you're aware of the vast space around you and desperate to look at the amazing scenery, but if you relax from 100% commitment for a fraction of a second they'll need a mop and bucket to clear you up. Best. Feeling. Ever.

    There are downsides to MTBs, sure (perpetually filthy gear, bike parts getting trashed in weeks or months, not decades). Road sections aren't a major issue - in fact I think long road climbs on a 30+lb bike with sticky tyres do your roadieing a fair bit of good - mental & physical resistance training! So long as the descent at the end is worth it, it's all good. (catching & dropping roadies when your bike weighs 2x theirs also makes for a nice ego boost :D )

    Ultimately, I've never come back from a road ride thinking "If you killed me now, I'd die a happy man". It happens every couple of weeks on a mountain bike in UK riding. Every day when I'm on holiday somewhere with big mountains and properly remote trails.
    other times you find a stretch which is too technical for any bike, like a 1 in 3 descent on rocks,
    .
    Crap. There's very little that's "un rideable". There's stuff *you* might not be able to ride, but that's the challenge isn't it? (and since when was 1 in 3 a steep descent??)

    It's all nice and good as advert for MTBiking... but I don't think it's the OP proposition
    left the forum March 2023
  • cycleclinic
    cycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    As an MTB rider for years owning an MTB opens up more rails than a CX bike ever could also you will find a
    MTB just soaks up the rough stuff better so on trails with rocks e.tc you are faster. Riding an CX bike is a bit like riding an MTB from the 90,s I still do that but try racing an MTB from the 90's against a modern 29er and the difference is night and day. The same goes for CX bikes. CX bikes are fine for bridleways, gravel roads i.e the kind of road riding i do in suufolk e.tc but for proper off road riding they are not the best. There is some proper off road trails in the leaf hill area, I remember struggling on them once with an MTB.

    I'd say buy an MTB and a CX bike and do both types of riding its all good and you obey the n+1rule.
    Yes MTBs are are not as popular today but thast does not mean they are not useful. Myself I will always be a MTB rider at heart even though I mostly ride road these days simply because I lack the time to get to some proper hills. Try doing the Olympic MTB course on a CX bike no that thecscariuest thing I have ever done on two wheels. So pick the bike that best suits you if you have to buy just one. Also a full sister is simply not needed. Arigud 29er is a very capable xc bike run with low pressure tub less tyres. A properly set up up xc bike will no it be slow next to a CX bike.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    I'd never take offroad riding advise from anyone in East Anglia ;-) Youtube Caddon Bank Innerleithin and ride it 'blind' like I did the other week on a CX bike and you might change your thoughts on "light trail" - the first drop-offs were a bit hairy tho :-D
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • JonEdwards
    JonEdwards Posts: 452
    Caddon Bank Innerleithin and ride it 'blind' like I did the other week on a CX bike

    Pics please!

    I assume you dropped the drops, not rolled the chicken lines to the left?

    Did you ride the DH runs too? I'd pay (some) good money to watch someone ride The Matador on a CX bike...
  • cycleclinic
    cycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    Of course you can ride trail centre courses on a CX bike just like I could ride cody brenin on a rigid 26er with canti's but I would be and most would be quicker and easier on a modern MTB that what I am getting at. CX bike's are best suited to CX type work they are less competant and therefore require a more skilled rider the more technical the trails get.

    I mean if clunkers were the best off road bikes there has ever been they would not have evolved into modern MTB's over last 40 years.

    do you also not think I have not traveled out of East anglia to ride my MTB's? I suggest Monty dog you take your CX bike round the olympic MTB course and tell me it is the best tool for the job. MTB's make more technical trails accesable to more riders, CX bikes make mixed road/bridle way/track riding more accessable to more riders. Pick the best tool for the job I say.
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